TIMES OF INDIA / DURGESH NANDAN JHA
NEW DELHI: Back to back cases of doctors employing and abusing minors may have shocked the city but child welfare experts say exploitation of poor children from Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal is rampant among the middle class here.
Activists and NGOs say hundreds of children from impoverished families in these states are rescued in the capital every year. Placement agencies lure them from home with promises of work as fulltime domestic helps but leave them exposed to every kind of abuse – financial, mental, physical and sexual.
“In 2011, we got 25 cases of domestic child workers who were abused by employers and placement agencies. This year, till March, we have received nine such cases,” said Raaj Mangal Prasad, chairperson of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Lajpat Nagar. There are six CWC offices in the city’s nine districts.
Only 10% of the actual number of children employed as domestic helps are identified and rescued due to lack of monitoring by the labour department, which is supposed to conduct raids regularly,” said Prasad.
Rakesh Sengar, activist with Bachpan Bachao Aandolan, said children are commonly employed as domestics in metro cities. “Middle class double-income families tend to employ children as full-time domestics as they are docile and not demanding.”
Sengar said his organization rescues 10-20 children every month. “The culprits are mostly from the middle class: doctors, professors and businessmen. They are aware that child labour is illegal and punishable yet flout the rules for their convenience.”
Nishi Kant, executive director of the NGO Shakti Vahini said oversight and absence of registration requirements had led to the unregulated growth of placement agencies. Another activist said, “Employers need to be careful in determining the age of domestic helps and the possibility of their being trafficked. An employer can be jailed if the child help complains about forced labour and denial of minimum wages”.